Skinny-Shaming (in the gym)

 

I always feel self-conscious when I go to the gym.

When people hear that they usually immediately start to think of a heavy-set woman sweating with a drenched back and armpits.

But that’s not true for me. I’m self-conscious about going to the gym because I am skinny. Whenever I go I can feel eyes on me. At first I thought that I was just being paranoid or even an attention-whore but my fears were confirmed to be true one gym day when a girl whispered just a bit too loudly (perhaps purposely) to her friend, “I hate when skinny people come to the gym. She’s skinny already.”

Well newsflash to you, too-loud-whisperer-girl, you don’t have to be out of shape to go to the gym.

I don’t go to the gym to get skinny or to look like some girl I saw in a magazine, though it is admittedly nice to keep my stomach toned and tight. But the main reason, which should be everyone’s reason, is for health.

Working out helps you to sleep better, builds and maintains healthy muscles, bones and joints, strengthens and boosts your immune system…and that’s just some of the benefits.

We have to stop shaming each other for our body-types and just realize that everyone is beautiful in their own way. I personally think that thicker women are beautiful, curvy creatures even if they pack a little extra flub in their stomach. I would never make fun of someone else for how they look so the thought of someone doing it to me makes my blood boil over.

Why make fun of someone who is trying to better themselves?

The gym should be a place where we help each other- because Lord knows that equipment and coming up with a good work out plan isn’t always the easiest to figure out.

Getting the courage to move your body in all these fast paced movements while grimacing in pain and sweating is a choice that is hard enough to make without someone whispering behind your back that you’re too skinny or too fat. So let’s stop the skinny-shaming and the fat-shaming…let’s just stop the shaming and start the uplifting already.

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ANTI-Pro-Ana/Pro-Mia/Thinspiration

Warning: While I will not post pictures on this entry, some of the content may be a trigger for those with eating disorders. Please do not continue to read if you struggle with such content.

I stumbled on to something that sent a chill up my spine. Clicking on page after page, I thought “this can’t be real. This can’t be serious. Is this a joke?”

But it was.

I happened to stumble on blog after blog then furthering my research, website after website of “thinspiration”. These pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia sites and their image galleries display these disorders as something that is acceptable and that produces satisfactory results.

I know. I’ll probably get some crazy backlash about this post and some people who say “pro-ana isn’t harmful if you’re doing it right!” but I don’t care because it is harmful potentially physically, mentally and emotionally. Plus, let’s just say that for every Trump supporter there’s a Trump-hater. I’m that Trump-hater. I’m that ana-pro hater, that pro-mia-hater.

I’ve seen quotes on these sites that say things like “wake up: don’t eat”, “I want to be the girl you love”, and advice to not talk to my friends until I hit that perfect weight because they’ll only get in the way with galleries upon galleries of girls with protruding hip-bones, model-flat stomachs, and thigh gap upon thigh gap.

This is not to say that I’m some heavy weight woman sitting behind my laptop screen eating a bag of chips and wiping my greasy fingers off on my shirt. On the contrary, I’m fit with a flat stomach. I’ve had my days when I look in the mirror and I don’t like what I see but I have never thought “oh, I need to think like an anorexic and make myself get skinnier and obsess over it.”

Ladies, if you want a skinnier body then yes, work for it. Don’t be lazy: work out a couple days of the week. By all means eat your fruits and veggies but don’t go all day without eating at all or eating one extremely small meal a day. In fact, a lot of studies show that eating small portions all day helps in weight loss. Eat. Your body will thank you for it.  Please do not lose weight by adopting the tendencies and mindset of someone with a mental illness. Please do not berate yourself day after day for the way your body was made and how it naturally works- for being hungry.

I realize that someone may comment on this post, “well you’re just directing girls to those websites.”

Trust me, if they really want to find it and look at it, they’ll do it. If they think that supporting one of those websites is a good idea, then they were thinking that way long before I even thought of this post.

This is a call for healthy choices, healthy lifestyles and healthy bodies.

This is my very own opposite post against those horrid pro-ana and pro-mia websites and thinspiration with women whose bones are protruding. We shouldn’t look to those. What’s the point of being skinny if we can’t enjoy it? You’ll be weak if you don’t eat, if you’re constantly in turmoil thinking about how skinny you want to be. Get fit and you’ll look and feel great.

This isn’t pro-ana, this is pro-health.

I hope you’ll join me.

Painting with a Twist Review

Back on Valentine’s Day my boyfriend and I wracked our brains for something new we could do other than our usual dinner and a movie. My friend suggested we go went to a painting class. Of course I thought “how much money does this girl think we have?”

That’s when she told me about Painting with a Twist. It’s a franchise that mixes “instructional art with friends, wine and a lively instructor to produce individual works of art” (of course you don’t have to drink alcohol if you don’t want to. It’s just as much fun without it, I promise. You can also bring snacks and other beverages).

I wish I had bothered to take more pictures but I’ll try to explain how this goes in detail for you.

When we went in a cheerful greeter was at the door and gave us instructions on what to do. We could put our jackets in the back on the coat hangers. Then we could pick any open seat with a canvas and paint in front of it.

We picked our seats and put the smocks on that were waiting for us on the chairs. A sense of giddiness settled over me since I had not painted anything since probably the second grade. We took the time to look around, noticing the vast amount of detailed paintings covering the walls. I wondered how in the world they were going to get us beginners to paint such beautiful paintings and became nervous because I knew that my painting skills weren’t exactly the best. Okay, I paint worse than most five year olds.

A screen that would allow everyone to see clearly was on the back wall as our cheerful instructor stood at the front of the room with her own canvas.

Fast forward and we began to paint a picture step by step. Another instructor wandered through to give us more paint and answer any questions we had.

Halfway through we took a break to play a little painting game, something I hadn’t been expecting but found pleasure and laughter in nonetheless.

By the end of it, we had painted a beautiful picture!

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I think the coloring and the shape of our clouds are a tad bit messed up because at one point we weren’t paying much attention as we spoke with the other guests (oops!) but the picture is still nice and was fun to create! I even got a bit carried away and added those hearts on my birds.

I’d definitely go back. They have workshops for couples, friends and family where you can even bring your kids! I urge everyone who wants to do something different to go to paintingwithatwist.com and check out their website to see if they have one near you!

The “Too-Good” Guy

Sitting down with my best friend and just talking is one of my favorite past times. And what did we talk about? Her favorite topic of course. Boys. Boys. Boys.

My friend is the type of girl who falls fast and hard for a guy. She wears her heart on her sleeve and hopes that he will too. Yet she just hasn’t been able to find that perfect guy yet- except, in my eyes, she already did.

“So what’s this new guy you’re talking to like?”

She shrugged and fiddled with a stray strand on her bedspread. “I dunno. He’s pretty nice, I guess. Handsome. He texts me in the morning ‘good morning beautiful’. He checks on me throughout the day. He says goodnight. He’s always complimenting me…”

“And?” I prompted as she grew quiet, looking contemplative.

“And he’s kind of quiet. He’s stays to himself a lot and seems kinda shy. I’m not used to shy guys.”

“So you don’t like him?” I asked. It was perfectly fine if she didn’t. Perhaps he just wasn’t her type. But something told me that this was something more.

She sighed and finally stopped looking at the darn strand. Looking me in the eyes for the first time in the past five minutes, she said, “he just seems too good to be true. You know what I mean?”

I absolutely did not know what she meant. But I had heard this before. Ladies, why is it that when we find someone good, we’re terrified of him?

I suppose that we set our expectations high only to get them hit with a boulder and smashed down in the end. The disappointment sets in and our standards lower immensely. I think that’s what happened to my friend. It pained me to think that she would lower her standards when really it was the men who should be holding themselves to a higher standard. So when a guy came around that was actually doing everything she wanted in the beginning, she wanted to run from him.

Sure, the too-good guy really could be putting on an act to get you interested, but time will tell and he will show his true colors eventually. At that point, go ahead and drop him. But why not give him a chance? He really good be a good guy that you’re missing out on because you’re afraid of heartbreak!

That’s the thing about life. Heartbreak happens. But we have to pick ourselves up afterwards and start over again. There’s plenty of fish in the sea. But one of them is going to be your great and last catch. It’ll take time. But don’t throw him back immediately after you catch him because you think something must be wrong with him.

I told my friend this (maybe not in so many words) and she’s going out on a date with him soon. I wish her the best of luck and I wish you all luck as well!

In my eyes there’s no such thing as a “too-good guy”- meet my expectations or get back in the water!

-Jocelyn H.

The Joys of Coconut Oil

If you haven’t heard it by now, then I’m here to tell you: coconut oil is great. In my book, this is one trend that should never end. Whether you’re using it for hair care, skin care or in your food, coconut oil is a great alternative to more mainstream products!

Hair: When I first discovered coconut oil, it was by watching many YouTube videos about haircare. I had never heard of putting anything in your hair other than grease or heat protectant so it surprised me to think that an oil used for cooking could actually be great for moisturizing your hair. It is great for moisturizing that helps your hair to grow and gives your hair an awesome shine while it’s at it! Not only that, but frizz will be eliminated and your hair will be sealed and protected from the sun at the blazing bleach, saltwater or chlorine.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is also great for moisturizing your skin! It prevents dryness and flaking and can even heal dry skin over time. Make sure you have unrefined/extra-virgin coconut oil so that it does not have added fragrance, flavors or coloring. It makes skin silky and has antibacterial/antimicrobial properties. Feel free to put it on before shaving your legs too, ladies!

Cooking: It has nutritional properties such as that helps to improve the digestive system. It helps in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can cause indigestion. It also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Besides the nutritional properties, organic virgin coconut oil has a marvelous coconut scent and gives a natural flavor that is great for making cookies or cake!

That’s just a few of the things that coconut oil is good for. A quick search of the benefits of coconut oil can tell you more, but I think you get the gist. I’ll vouch for got it any day- I use it and I love it!

The Big Chop – Will it make or break me?

When I was a child, I always thought my hair was a redeeming quality of mines. A little black girl that went to a public school where all the other little black girls wore weave seemingly 365 days of the year, I took pride in being one of the few that was proud to wear her actual hair out. My mother permed my hair at the age of 12 or 13 and from that moment on I loved to turn run my hands through my straight, long locks. I felt as if my hair defined me, made me better somehow despite my short stature and mediocre face.

That is, until I reached the age of 23. Years of perming my hair had made it thin and my scalp was always so dry that I had a huge issue with dandruff. With the sudden Natural Hair movement, I was inspired to get rid of my perm and finally have healthy hair that I could truly be proud of. By then, I was confident in who I was- shortness and all. I even now knew that my face was pretty- I had grown into my big teeth and found my face to be quite appealing.

I tried for five or six months to transition my hair from permed to natural. I did twists-outs and braid-outs, but the management for these styles with most of my hair still permed proved to be a hassle.

Day after day, the “big chop” entered my mind. The thought was tantalizing but scary. Ladies, whether you’re black, white, yellow or brown…you’ve got to know what I mean if you’ve never had short hair before. I wondered what I would look like. Would I look like a little boy? Would my boyfriend still find me attractive? Would I still find myself attractive?

Not to mention that, being an African American, other fears popped into my brain. Wouldn’t I be seen as just another Black girl who can’t grow her hair long? Would my hairstyles be work-appropriate? Was I willing to do the maintenance and keep up with the products that would maintain my healthy hair and grow my hair back long?

On my 23rd birthday I came up with the answer to all of those questions: WHO CARES?!

I went to my beautician and told her to cut all of my perm out, leaving me with a meager couple of inches that I didn’t even bother to measure.

I admit that the first couple of days I berated myself for cutting my precious hair. I admit that I even cried. But you know what, once I sucked it up and really looked at myself I realized that I was still the same person…just with different hair.

Over the last three months I’ve had time to get to know my hair. My natural hair. Thicker than my permed hair, curlier than my permed hair, just as beautiful as my permed hair. My hair has already grown a couple of inches and I’m even able to do a twist-out again!

The point I’m trying to make is that your hair does not define you, ladies. It’s hair. It grows back. No matter what race you are, if you want to cut your hair then do it and rock it! If you find that you don’t like it pin it up, wear headbands, look up styles that other women with short hair has and try them out. Your hair won’t be short forever so have fun while it’s still short because once it grows out again you might find yourself wishing for the easier maintenance.

Love the process, love your hair, love yourself!

Jocelyn H.

What’s up Doc’? No Fear Here!

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office as a child. Despite the toys and coloring books meant to distract me in the waiting room, I sat stoically in my chair next to my mother, my short legs dangling from the seat. The nurse opened the door and gave me a giant white smile and reached out for my hand. My heart began to thud. They wanted me to go into that door, into the unknown and I already knew what happened after that from watching television.

They were going to give me a shot and it was going to hurt. It was going to hurt very badly.

Looking back on it I wonder if my fear of the doctor could have been prevented. My siblings were never petrified of the doctor so I have to wonder- why me? It seems my parents got some new tricks up their sleeves after using me (the oldest child) as a learning-tool (sorry, mom…but you’ve been caught). If you’re a parent, you certainly don’t want to drag your child kicking and screaming into the doctor’s office. So here is some advice on what to do to prevent your child from being afraid of the doctor based off of my simple observations of my own parents and younger siblings:

  • Pretend/Role-Play: When your child knows what’s going to happen behind that door, it can be a lot less scary. Get some toys and show your child exactly what’s going to happen in the office. Check their temperature, listen to their heartbeat, and take a look inside of their ears. They’ll become not only familiar with the tools but with each move the doctor will make. Make it fun! Don’t forget the lollipop at the end!
  • Read Books: This strategy is efficient in two ways. You not only get to cure their fear of the doctor but you’re letting them learn through reading. Find children’s books that explain what going to the doctor is like with their favorite characters such as Dora the Explorer.
  • Show Them In Real-Life: Showing your child the experience before they have their own can be another way to help. Take your child to their older sibling’s or your own appointment. They will be able to see step by step what will happen at their own appointment and figure out that it is no big deal. They’ll watch your reactions and see that there is nothing to be afraid of.
  • Bring a Toy: Have the doctor demonstrate on your child’s stuffed animal or favorite toy. Once their “friend” finishes his checkup, your child is sure to feel a bit better about the situation.
  • Show Your Confidence: If you act nervous then your child will know. You must be the strong rock in the situation. Tell your child “I know you’re going to do a good job. You’re a big kid!” and your child will believe you.

I hope something here helps your child with their fear! Feel free to comment with any other strategies you can think of!